A GARDINER Dairy Foundation tertiary scholarship has opened many doors for East Gippsland agronomist Carley Einsiedel, including one that came out of left field.
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OPPORTUNITY: Carley Einsiedel is relishing the opportunity to work as an agronomist, after being able to complete studies thanks to a Gardiner Dairy Foundation scholarship.

Not only did the scholarship give Ms Einsiedel the financial support to study when drought was severely impacting her family’s farm, it fortuitously introduced her to a mentor, retired agricultural consultant Noel Thomas.

On the first day of her course in 2019, Ms Einsiedel was interviewed on the ABC Country Hour, little realising her words would lead to a contact that continues to guide her as she embarks on her own agricultural consultancy business based in her home town of Boisdale, Vic.

Ms Einsiedel’s words about the scholarship and her vision for a career in agronomy struck a chord with Mr Thomas.

“Noel recognised that I had said a similar line regarding my interest in soils, plant and animal health that he had many years ago when he started out,” Ms Einsiedel said.

“He got in contact with me through the Gardiner Foundation and since then he has been a mentor and a massive foundation of knowledge, confidence and materials for my business. That support has been worth as much as the scholarship, and it all came about because of Gardiner.”

Now retired, Mr Thomas guided Ms Einsiedel as she started her own agronomy business, CreAg Services, the title being a riff on creative ag services but also representing her initials.

“I remember when I first told Noel that I was interested in regenerative agriculture,” she said. “It wasn’t a term he was necessarily familiar with, but he did everything possible to ensure I had the resources and opportunities to increase my knowledge on the topic; including organising a group of like-minded young people to bounce ideas and concepts off.

“Noel has not only guided me through the start of my career confidence-wise, he helped me develop a computer program to thoroughly interpret soil tests, and gave me access to a large set of referencing publications and physical tools that are an essential component of a consultant’s toolbox.

“Noel is not only a wealth of professional knowledge and experience, but also an excellent life mentor and a great friend.”

Ms Einsiedel was the Bill Pyle Gardiner Foundation tertiary scholarship recipient in 2019. The scholarship paid for her accommodation while she completed her Diploma of Agronomy and Advanced Diploma of Agribusiness Management at Longerenong Agricultural College.

Ms Einsiedel grew up around cattle, soils and agriculture on a dryland beef farm in Boisdale, sparking her life-long interest in the field.

“It’s an intense dairying region and I always wanted to come back here and work in agriculture,” she said.

“I like the diversity; everyone has their particular and differing opinions, which I find really interesting.”

The broad and practical nature of her TAFE-based course fitted nicely with her love of diversity.

“It was extremely broad, which I really appreciated, and they really push a lot of practical skills,” she said. “You get out in the field and get to talk to a lot of farmers and learn the practical side of agriculture as much as the scientific side.

“I could have gone to ag science courses at university, but I wasn’t 100 per cent sure about being an agronomist and wanted to learn more about the field. I’m extremely happy that I went to Longerenong. It gave me practical skills that made me ready to work.”

We were deep in a drought when I left, so it would have been a struggle to complete the course without it.– Carley Einsiedel

The course might not have happened without the scholarship. “It was a massive help because it paid for my accommodation, which was six hours from home,” Ms Einsiedel said.

Ms Einsiedel took a part-time job with a race trainer but the scholarship meant she could cut back on work and focus more on her studies.

“It was incredibly helpful,” she said. “We were deep in a drought when I left, so it would have been a struggle to complete the course without it.

Ms Einsiedel launched CreAg Services in April and is steadily growing the business and putting her study to good use.

“I love communicating with farmers and educating them on their soil status,” she said. “Instead of just telling farmers what to put on and when to do so, I really love getting them involved with their soil and teaching them about that aspect of their farm.”

While enjoying growing her business, the course also stimulated Ms Einsiedel interest in regenerative agriculture and she hopes to do more research in the field to incorporate it into her consulting business.

“I’d like to help East Gippsland farmers to restore their soil health and structure, whilst minimalising the overall reliance on chemical inputs,” she said.

A farmer’s life is always busy, but when you add in looking after the family and a sideline business as an artificial breeding (AB) technician, with a run that is spread out over many kilometres, it can become a balancing act.

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